6 Spots to Saddle Up Down South
Home on the Range
Cowboys roam the range at The Running R Guest Ranch, mingling with the guests, who are welcome (but not required) to lend a hand. Located in Bandera, Texas, the "Cowboy Capital of the World," you and your cowpokes won't lack entertainment. Honkytonks and hoedowns abound, so pack your best pair of Wrangler's, polish those boots and prepare to two-step the night away (800/364-3833;
Git along to Texas Hill Country, where the sun is shining and snow is rare. Here, the Museum of Western Art fits right in with Kerrville's cowboy culture. Soak it in best at a cabin at the legendary Y.O. Ranch, a working ranch where you can participate in a trail drive, rounding up one of the largest herds of longhorn cattle in Texas (800/221-7958; kerrvilletexascvb.com).
Ropin' and Ridin'
Grab your 10-gallon hat and head on down to Houston for the 80th annual Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Feb. 28-March 18, 2012, at Reliant Park. With an attendance of more than 2 million, this is the most-anticipated rodeo of the year, and for many good reasons: a roster of A-list headliner concerts, jaw-dropping roping and riding, trail rides, barbecues and, of course, cowboys galore (832/667-1000; hlsr.com).
Hold Your Horses
Nobody knows cowboys quite like "The City of Cowboys and Culture"— i.e. Fort Worth, Texas—home to the Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District and a thick slice of living cowboy history (and noncowboy culture), with twice-daily cattle drives, rodeos, a National Cowgirl Museum, world renowned art museums and more. Two-step the night away at nearby Billy Bob's, the world's largest honky-tonk. Boy howdy, indeed (800/433-5747; fortworth.com).
Too Hot to Panhandle
Activities around Amarillo, Texas, read like a veritable cowboy guidebook: Visit the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame and Museum, rally at the Amarillo Livestock Auction, ride a horse through the rocky Palo Duro Canyon State Park and then hitch a covered wagon to your cowboy supper at River Breaks Ranch. Clearly, the Panhandle Plains are anything but plain (800/692-1338; visitamarillotx.com).
Hoedown of Haunts
Step into history in Jefferson, a small town of 2,200 in east Texas. Clop through downtown in a mule-drawn wagon, cheer on some young buckaroos at a Texas Mini Buckers Bull Riders show or indulge in a ghost tour in the many town haunts (and darlings of Discovery, Travel and SciFi channels). Jefferson is considered the most haunted small town in Texas, but most visitors will tell you they never felt so alive (903/665-3733; visitjeffersontexas.com).